on September 20, 2011
Grand Teton National ParkWHERE WILL YOU FIND THIS NATIONAL PARK?This National Park is in the state of Wyoming in the North West and stretches through to join Yellowstone National Park from Jackson Hole. Today the area is a popular ski area but is also known for its stunning scenery, hiking areas, fishing and wildlife. This National Park gets its name from the huge Grand Teton mountain peak which is 13,770 feet high and is within the Teton Range. The mountains are very alpine looking with sharp high glacial peaks.The Grand Tetons are a part of the Rocky Mountain range and they are a truly stunning area of natural beauty. The mountains formed with no foothills and so the natural lakes below act as mirrors which reflect the snow capped mountains behind them. At the time when the earthquakes and earth movement was building up the mountains a huge area subsided and the valley called Jackson Hole was formed. Strangely the rocks at the core of the Teton Range are some of the oldest rocks in North America, but the mountains are apparently among the youngest in the world.The National park's world-renowned scenery attracts nearly four million visitors per year so we were in good company for our visit. The Grand Teton National Park was very unusually first established in 1929 when the original park protected the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base. The larger park from 1950 took the boundaries further to include much of the adjacent valley floor.WHAT WILL YOU FIND THERE?Apart from driving alongside the beautiful mountains and passing the lakes reflecting these there are over 200 miles of walking trails to explore. We drove through the edge of the park from Jackson Hole through to Yellowstone and on the way we were quite in awe of the scenery but also keeping an eye open for the wildlife or ‘the critters’ as the man at the gate called them.Just after we entered the park we came across a group of young male moose resting just beside the road. We stopped and took photos and watched them for quite some time as they are the most ridiculous looking beasts but rather wonderful too.We also saw a few bison along the way and the odd jack rabbit but to be truthful we were rather more attracted by the wonderful mountain scenery which was reflected in the lakes below. As we were there in May we were expecting quite warm weather but we did actually experience e quite deep snow. The mountains all had the white snow caps and these did look rather special when reflected in the lakes below. Some of these lakes were however still frozen so reflections were not always seen as we drove along.JACKSON HOLEWe stayed one night in Jackson Hole which is largely a ski resort with plenty of tourist accommodation. When we arrived at the hotel we had had quite a long drive because the road we were meant to take had been closed due to a huge landslide.SNAKE RIVER BREWPUBI asked the man at Reception to recommend us somewhere to eat. He named a few options but the one we opted for was the Snake River Brewery and restaurant which was only five minutes walk from our hotel The Quality Inn and Suites which I have already reviewed.We arrived on a Sunday so the restaurant and bar was pretty busy but they found us a table. There were quite a few different beers brewed there and my husband did his best to try as many as possible from the range. The names were great ‘ Custer’s Last Ale’, ‘Blank Czech Pilsner’, ‘Dim Witbier’, ‘Monkey’s Dunkel’ and the one that finished my husband off for the evening which was ‘Discombobulator’.We not only had a few drinks but also enjoyed a bison burger and some local sausages which were very tasty and quite huge portions.This is a real functioning brewery and you can see the factory through glass in some areas of the building. The building is obviously a working factory as there are huge pipes above as part of the ‘decor’. It was not a posh place by any means, the tables and tables were functional rather than smart, and the place was pretty noisy and very busy so you felt a little cosy as the tables were close together but the atmosphere was friendly and fun.ANTLER ARCHESThe next day we went to find the little local park which had four huge arches made entirely from elk antlers which had been cast off by the animals. They were quite a sight, really large and one at each corner of the small park in the town.We were rather taken by the small rodent like animals called marmots. They popped out of holes and ran around just around our feet. They were quite delightful and kept us entertained for quite some time before we felt we should go and fill the car with petrol.MOOSE IN THE TOWNAs my husband was filling the car with petrol I went in to pay and as I looked back to see if he had finished pumping the gas I saw a young moose walk through the petrol station. The young moose then casually walked on looking as though he was about to enter a shop but then changed his mind and went along the pavement towards the park.LEAVING JACKSON HOLEWe entered the National Park again having bought our ‘America The Beautiful’ card or National Park season ticket ( $80 for all in the car for all National Parks for one year from the date purchased) the day before and we drove through the park alongside the mountain range admiring the truly stunning snow capped mountains on our left.FEESApart from the annual pass you can also pay per visit or pay $12 per person or $25 for a car for a 7 day pass which is good for The Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone as well for the one price.JENNY LAKE VISITOR CENTREThis visitor’s centre is just about eight miles north of Moose, a wonderful name for a town! The centre closes at the end of September for the season and opens again in May. There isn’t a lot there apart from a number of geology exhibits, information about the park as well as a large map of the park. We stopped to have a little look before heading on.WILDLIFE WATCHING AND DRIVINGAs we left we spotted a few pronghorn deer which were enjoying the sagebrush foliage. The pronghorn are supposed to be the fastest animal in the USA. We also spotted some of the rather larger elk grazing under some trees. They were quite hard to spot in the shadows but once we did see them we were able to stop the car and just watch them.There are rules when watching wild life, you are asked to be thoughtful about not disturbing the animals so that other visitors can also enjoy the animals. You are forbidden to feed the wildlife, it is against the law. Never put yourself between a mother and its baby as they will protect their young and you may get hurt. They are pretty much common sense but there are always some who need to be told.All along the routes there are plenty of turnouts for wildlife viewing, common sense should tell you not to stop in the middle of the road but if an animal is crossing then it has right of way. Care should be taken when driving at night as some of the larger animals cross the roads at night and are hard to see until you get up close so stick to the speed limit and pay attention at all times.HIKING AND WALKING IN THE PARKThis is bear country so beware and make bears aware of your presence and avoid surprising them by making loud noises like talking loudly or singing. Always carry bear spray and know how to use it.These are very sensible precautions and if you are planning on going into the park on foot or camping in the designated areas then heed the advice.WOULD I RECOMMEND?Yes it is a very beautiful area and well worth driving through. The scenery is stunning. We didn’t stay in the park but we stopped at the visitor’s centre at Jenny Lake and had a coffee at another. The drive was just lovely and we also enjoyed spotting the wildlife as we drove along as well as enjoying the mountains and lake scenery.
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